So Just What Does Make A Good Book Good? by @RobertHughes05

I’m guessing everyone will have an answer to this question, but what do you think makes a good book good?  After all, we have all started reading a book which we never finish, usually because we don’t particularly like the story, but what is it that makes us read a book right to its end?

As writers and authors we could all put a list together and, I’m pretty sure, we’d all have lists where many of the answers would match up.   Without a doubt answers such as the cover, the opening paragraph, the way it is written, and the genre would appear, but if I were to ask you to choose just one answer, what would it be?

Eighteen months ago I would have given you a completely different answer to that I am going to give you today, because eighteen months ago I was hardly writing anything apart from the occasional greetings card, shopping list, or message. Back then I would most definitely have given my answer as the genre of the book, because just about every book that was Science Fiction and included time-travel would, in my opinion, be good.  Then, just over twelve months ago, I began writing my own short stories and, over time, my answer has changed.

Simply by putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and writing short stories, I now find myself not considering some books good unless they have cliffhangers at the end of some of the chapters.  The cliffhanger spurs me to read on.  I’ll look at the clock and it may be well beyond midnight and I have an upcoming early appointment in the morning, but if I’ve just finished reading a chapter and there’s a cliffhanger involved, then I’ll read on.

I also like to come away from a book or short story where the author has given me the choice to decide for myself what may have really happened.  Some authors have a wonderful way of letting the reader decide for themselves and I have always been interested with the answers given back by the readers.  They are often very varied with maybe a few crossing paths.  As authors and writers we all have incredible imaginations and most of us will come up with some wonderful imaginative answers, but I wonder how many of us would come up with exactly the same answer?

Hugh Roberts






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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

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59 thoughts on “So Just What Does Make A Good Book Good? by @RobertHughes05”

  1. I like a plot that keeps me wanting to read, keeps me wondering about where the story is going and then ends with a bang- either tying up the loose ends OR with a cliffhanger to keep me wanting more.:)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It depends on the type of book. I usually like characters that take me by surprise and whose motives are far from straightforward, but sometimes it might be the language used, the plot, the setting… A really good book might have a bit of all in the right amount but I like many different types of books so no, I don’t have a single answer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I agree with your comment about characters, Olga. They are just one of the ingredients that make a book good, and if the author makes them not as straight forward as what the reader thinks, then it’s usually a great way to keep the reader hooked.

      I think there are many answers to my question and I was just interested to hear what people had to say and see if there was a pattern or any connections in what came up.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tess. Keeping the reader engaged is indeed a very important point in making a book good to read. I also think that the way it is written is also important. For me, too much jargon or even words I don’t quite understand, can put me off.


      1. Actually, I can because it was such a headache to read: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace.
        Don’t get me wrong. I think the fellow was brilliant but certainly not my comfort zone. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I agree with you. No matter how beautiful the writing, if the book doesn’t LEAD us, HOOK us, keep us interested from chapter to chapter, we don’t care about finishing it. Yes, we need to care about the characters, but the characters need to care about us, the reader! The character needs to entertain us, to show us the mystery in his/her existence, through a plot that leads us through the mystery of his/her current condition. And yes, as I write my own books, I insist on some kind of hook at the end of each chapter, and an ending that leaves the reader wanting more. Or at least, I try to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a very good point about the characters needing to care about us. I guess that is up to the author though?

      I agree about the end of chapters as well. There needs to a ‘dangle a carrot in front of a donkey’ situation to ensure the reader carries on reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There has to be some sort of engaging plot and arc, of course. Yet, if I think back, I’ll put down a book with a fantastic, fast-paced plot if the characters don’t feel real to me. I’m reading a book like that right now (one I’m committed to finishing). The plot is great, but the characters – I couldn’t care less.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, very interesting post Hugh, and all the commentators too. But I think if the characters are good, then the story flows from that naturally, though there must be exceptions. I like it when a characters is likeable, and he or she is in terrible trouble, what I call ‘man in a mess’ mysteries.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting point, Geoffrey.

          It is great to read what everybody has to say about my question and, indeed, the answers which are given.

          I think we all enjoy reading about likeable characters, but I also enjoy reading about the ‘bad guys’ especially if they are really bad and I want them to get some of their own machine. One such character for me is Annie Wilkes, played by Kathy Bates, in the movie ‘Misery’. Stephen King had me hooked on his book just because of her.


  4. Reblogged this on Hugh's Views & News and commented:

    Here’s an interesting question I asked in an article I wrote for Lit World Interviews yesterday.

    Check out the post and have a think about my question over the weekend. I’d love to hear what your answers are, especially as many answers have already been given.

    If you do decide to comment, then please do so over on the post at Lit World Interviews.


  5. I also prefer a writer to leave the ending to the imagination of his/her readers although I have been criticized for doing so by some readers. Great characters are also something that makes a story sing for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have also been ‘on that boat’, Jan, and been told by readers that they didn’t quite understand the ending of a story I’d written.

      However, it doesn’t happen too much and I get far more comments from readers saying they liked the fact that I left it up to them to decide what happened.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Hugh! I agree with you. I love to read fantasy, science fiction, horror, and thriller. To me a great book leaves me in suspense at the end of each chapter. It grabs my attention from the start and keeps me interested throughout. Not an easy thing to do but it’s what I aspire to do when I write a story. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like it may have something to do with the genre of the book then Vashti, as to when we can leave cliffhangers and suspense at the end of a chapter?

      I’m glad to hear you agree with what I have said and, like you, I’m a big fan of leaving lots of twists, suspense and cliffhangers when writing a story.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great question and answers, Hugh.
    I like a book that quickly makes me care for the protagonist, and makes me want to read on to find out what happens to her/him. Adding cliffhangers, twists, and unexpected surprises are a bonus, but not necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the question you pose. Over time it is the answer I would give 90% of the time – If the author and editor have not taken the time to make the opening chapter well written (that includes syntax) then I put the book down. The remaining 10% are books that are my favorites and usually written more than 100 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Hugh, I just came over from Luccia’s blog party – nice to see you there, I brought a plumberry crumble and custard just for you 🙂 As to what I think makes a book good, I think it’s when I finish it and want to read it again straight away. Those are the books that stay in my bookshelves.


    1. Thanks so much Helen. Yes, that’s a great indication that a book is good. It’s the same when it comes to watching a movie. I don’t watch many movies more than once, but those I do are what I class as excellent.

      Thanks for the crumble and custard 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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